Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week

With all the controversy over Ellen Hopkins being asked to NOT participate in Texas' Teen Lit Festival and an idiot professor in Missouri calling to censor Speak, Twenty Boy Summer, and Slaughterhouse Five, this year's Banned Book Week has been brought right to the forefront in American consciousness. This is fantastic!

I work in a medium sized urban library that serves a very diverse population. Every year, I put up a book display about Banned Books Week. This year, I was super pleased when I had a school visit (three classes from our high school) on Tuesday morning and as I was explaining the different displays in the Teen Room someone asked what a "banned book" was...

I took my time explaining how some people think that others should not be able to read whatever they want and that we, as public libraries, choose to celebrate reader's choice. That we actually pull out all of these books to say that, "Yes, we do own this book, and YES, you can check it out!!"

The kids were really surprised when I pulled out some of the books from the display and started explaining why they had been challenged or banned in different places. Gossip Girl? Harry Potter? Twilight? What do you mean that people can't read those?

It was a great moment. A whole group of teens thinking about being told, "No, you can't read that because it's not appropriate for you." It made me smile to watch their faces grow from confused to aggravated to reluctant smiles when they realized that, they could take them if they wanted.

I could go on and on about the different banned books that I've read and enjoyed, but I think there are so many authors, bloggers, and librarians that have already done so, and better than I could, this week, that I'd rather just leave you with this "success story" from my library. It certainly made me smile, and I thought brought home, for me, at least, the real importance of Banned Books Week...spreading the word!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monster High

Monster High
by Lisi Harrison

The monster community has kept a low profile at the local high school, but when two new girls enroll, the town will never be the same. Created just fifteen days ago, Frankie Stein is psyched to trade her father's formaldehyde-smelling basement lab for parties and prom.

But with a student body totally freaked out by rumors of monsters stalking the halls, Frankie learns that high school can be rough for a chic freak like her. She thinks she finds a friend in fellow new student Melody Carver-but can a "normie" be trusted with her big secret?
(description taken from

This was an interesting start to a new series. I love the concept of the original movie "monsters" having been real people that reproduced and now their descendants are attending high school and trying to conceal their secret identities! Frankie is a hilarious newly created teen that exemplifies all the worst behaviors a spoiled fifteen year old girl can have...yet, couples it with a courage and sense of self-worth that is undeniable and makes her a character well worth emulating.

Melody, the "normi," is another fantastic character. Not perfect, by any means, yet very honest about relationships and more open to others than a lot of people out there. The other "monsters" that are introduced are all different and all tons of fun. I can't wait to see what they get up to later in the series.

My only major complaint - the book ends on such a cliffhanger! It was honestly all just a set-up for the series...could almost be considered a prequel to whatever the next book is...that should be book one really.

It was fun to read, though. I actually listened to it on audio and got to hear snippets of the "Monster High" theme song and there were additional sound effects that gave a cinematic feel. More fun. I highly recommend the audio version of this one!

Full disclosure: Received audio version to review for SLJ.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Sapphique

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!"

by Catherine Fisher

p. 142

Incarceron's voice was rich with contempt. You who cannot leave here because of your imperfections. But Sapphique's dream of the stars is mine now, and there is a way. A secret way, a way no one expects.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Anxiously Awaiting...

by Jackie Morse Kessler

Due out April 18, 2011 from Graphia.
Sequel to Hunger, book one in a thoughtful new series...a twist on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. *see my review here.

In My Mailbox - September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!

For Review:

Blessedby Cynthia Leitich Smith
*Thank you, Thank you!!*

The Missionary by William Carmichael and David Lambert

Radiance by Alyson Noel

From the Library:
Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin
No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Rich and Mad by William Nicholson
*Thank you Geri!!!*

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Books Meme

I saw this over at YABOOKNERD and decided to give it a whirl...

5 Books I’ve Read Recently
  1. Carter's Big Break by Brent Crawford
  2. Changeless by Gail Carringer
  3. Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
  4. Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  5. Water Steps by A. LaFaye
5 Books I’m Planning to Read (in the near future)
  1. Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
  2. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  3. Passing Strange by Daniel Waters
  4. Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder
  5. Virals by Kathy Reichs
5 of My Favorite Books - *for the moment...this changes frequently
  1. Firelight by Sophie Jordan
  2. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
  3. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
  4. Mistwood by Leah Cypess
  5. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
5 of My Least Favorite Books
  1. The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen
  2. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. Any of the YA R.L. Stine books (Fear Street, etc)
  5. Redwall by Brian Jacques
5 of My Favorite Book-to-Film Adaptations
  1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (rare in that the movie was better than the book!!)
  2. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  3. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  4. Emma (Masterpiece Classics)/Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson) by Jane Austen
  5. Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

Friday, September 24, 2010


Meanwhile: Pick any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities
by Jason Shiga

Chocolate or Vanilla? This simple choice is all it takes to get started with Meanwhile, the wildly inventive creation of comics mastermind Jason Shiga, of whom Scott McCloud said “Crazy + Genius = Shiga.” Jimmy, whose every move is under your control, finds himself in a mad scientist’s lab, where he’s given a choice between three amazing objects: a mind-reading device, a time-travel machine, or the Killitron 3000 (which is as ominous as it sounds). Down each of these paths there are puzzles, mysterious clues, and shocking revelations. It’s up to the reader to lead Jimmy to success or disaster.

Meanwhile is a wholly original story of invention, discovery, and saving the world, told through a system of tabs that take you forward, backward, upside down, and right side up again. Each read creates a new adventure!
(description taken from

Choose your own adventure meets the graphic novel...awesome!
This is a book that I would hand to any reluctant to read middle school boy. It is a choose your own adventure book, in graphic format, full of inventions, clues, disaster, random events, and a mystery. Very cool.

What did I love the most? Trying to follow the lines to see where the story goes next...turning the pages by the cool tabs...and realizing that the pages are laminated to prevent quick wear and TEAR! (The Librarian in me loved this!! I could just imagine having to replace the book about 8 times if the pages were normal...)

Fun. Interesting. I'd love to see another one.
So, what do you want? Chocolate or Vanilla...

Anxiously Awaiting...

Fins Are Forever
by Tera Lynn Childs

Coming June 28, 2011!!
I loved Forgive My Fins and can't wait to read the sequel.

Carter's Big Break

Carter's Big Break
by Brent Crawford
sequel to: Carter Finally Gets It

School is finally over, and he has (barely) survived his freshman year. Unfortunately, he quickly learns that the summer break he’s been craving just might break him. When he and his girlfriend, Abby, part ways (over his less-than-appropriate requests and her shameless flirting with another guy), Carter can’t help but think his summer is ruined.

Things start to look up after he’s unexpectedly cast in an independent film opposite the world’s biggest tween sensation, Hilary Idaho, who’s looking to give her image a makeover. With Hollywood knocking on his door, Carter gets a taste of the good life. Suddenly, his small town, lame friends, and embarrassing family don’t seem as great as they used to. As is prone to happen when Carter is around, the film spirals out of control, and he begins to fear that he’s not the “somebody” he thinks he is and more of the “nobody” he’s pretty sure he always has been. But maybe, with the help of a few friends, he’ll learn to see things in a whole new light.

Find out if Carter goes Hollywood…or Hollywood goes Carter.
(description taken from

I really loved Carter Finally Gets It when I read it. It is hilarious...and slightly raunchy. Definitely a book I would recommend to a high school boy looking for a funny read! Carter absolutely sounds like a fourteen year old boy...full of horomones and toilet humor.

At the end of their freshman year, Carter and his boys are looking forward to an awesome summer. Unfortunately, Carter's life never seems to work out that easily, and suddenly due to a misunderstanding (potentially totally Carter's fault), he and Abby are no longer dating. She's got her eye on an older guy, and Carter's probably gonna end up alone. *sad face*

On the upside, Carter is suddenly cast into a movie! A real movie. And his co-star is no other than Hilary Idaho, the hottest tween sensation...ever...and the fulfillment of some of Carter's wishful dreams. Things are definitely looking up...or are they?

Full of horomone driven situations and hilarious mishaps just like the first book, Carter's Big Break is another great story. Not quite as purely magical as the first, Carter still persistenly charms (and makes me snort) all the way through. The raunchiness is perfectly balanced with real life lessons, making for a book that I am just dying to pawn off on other readers!

Water Steps

Water Steps
by A. LaFaye

Kyna likes her friends, her purple hair, and taking photographs. But there's something she definitely doesn't like: the water. Every time she comes near it, she feels the sinister pull of the depths trying to draw her down to a watery grave. Even the calm water in the bathtub reminds her of the torrential storm that took the lives of her sailing family when she was just a baby. But Kyna's adopted parents love nothing more than to swim and splash about in lakes and streams, or even the local pool. When they decide to spend the summer at a beach house on Lake Champlain, Kyna is convinced that they're trying to teach her something about water that she's not ready to learn. Little does she know that the water will reveal far more than she ever could have imagined.
(description taken from

Kyna's story has been likened to the movie,"The Secret of Roan Inish" and I do have to agree. It is a story with a supernatural secret and a wonderfully folk-taleish rhythm. Though this story does deal with *Spoiler Alert* selkies... it really focuses on Kyna overcoming her fear of water. Ever since her family drowned when she was but a toddler, Kyna cannot even sit in a bathtub without having a full fledged panic attack.

As her adoptive parents gently coerce her to take "water steps," Kyna learns to overcome her fear and eventually conquers it *Spoiler Alert* in her quest to save a friend's life. Though she uncovers a deep family secret, more importantly Kyna learns how to really live with her new family.

I listened to this book on CD narrated by the author. The Irish accents were charming. The pacing was reminiscent of being told a story in front of a warm, cozy fire. A beautiful tale told in a charming way!

Full disclosure: Audiobook sent to me for review for AudioFile magazine

The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol
by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon series, book three

As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object--artfully encoded with five symbols--is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation . . . one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon’s beloved mentor, Peter Solomon--a prominent Mason and philanthropist--is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations--all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.
(description taken from

Robert Langdon returns in another intriguing, complex Masonic adventure. This particular addition to the series starts off a little slowly, but gains speed quickly. This book once again blends organized religion, secret societies, mysticism, and science.

The science introduced, noetics, is really fascinating to contemplate...and to read about on the internet. The idea that you can actually use your mind to affect the world around you is very cool - I loved the correlations to group healings, prayer circles, and ultimate Very interesting!

The science I think really brought this whole book together, though I also really liked the way that Brown brought people from Langdon's life in closer to the storyline. His relationship to the Soloman family made the story more complex and drew me further into caring about what happened to each character. Smart!

Overall, an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots
by Abby McDonald

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

This book was only so-so for me. I had really high expectations, I suppose, because I loved McDonald's Sophomore Switch so much when I read it earlier this year. This just didn't strike me the same way.

Although I didn't really connect wholeheartedly to Jenna's environmental dilemma, I did love the message about learning to become a well rounded not just focus on a single aspect of one's personality. I also loved the subplot about one of the character's coming out.

This wasn't a bad book by any means, but I don't feel like it's a must read.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

OMG! This (finally!) official trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - part 1 looks AMAZING. I am beyond excited.

Do you want to be a Monster?

So, I'm currently listening to the audio book version of Lisi Harrison's Monster High and it's actually a really cute, funny read so far! I'm loving it. This made me want to check out the website again, which I had visited a few months ago when they first started promoting the book, dolls, etc. online. I love the fashionista teen versions of the traditional "monsters!" Anyway, just thought I'd share this fun music video that they posted to YouTube to also help promote the book...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guest Post - Erin McCahan, Author of "I Now Pronounce You Someone Else"

Earlier this week, I was pleased to offer you my review for the day three stop on the I Now Pronounce You Someone Else blog tour. Today, I'm super excited to offer you a follow-up guest post from the author, Erin McCahan. My question:

"What came first the characters or the plot? Building a Story"

It’s funny, by which I mean happily coincidental – so, really, it’s not technically funny at all, is it, but only idiomatically funny – and where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, it’s funny (see above definition of funny) you ask this because I’ve been thinking about doing a post on my own blog about this very thing. I was going to call it: How It All Starts.

For me, whether it’s short stories or novels, it all starts with one small idea – either a scene, an object, a sentence, a conflict or a title. Never a character. The characters grow out of the idea, which first has to grow into a story.

For example, every Sunday, as my husband and I drive north to a monastery for our church service, we pass through a town called Widowville. Widowville is a handful of farmhouses set in very pretty farmland, and one of the houses always – ALWAYS – has a hand-lettered sign out front that says, either, eggs for sale or free kittens. In their side yard, cats and chickens wander and scratch, unconcerned about each other’s existence or proximity. So – a couple Sundays ago, I asked my husband this: What would the story be if the title were Welcome to Widowville, and it’s a comedy, not a horror story or tragedy?

Here’s another one I’m fooling around with. In this case, the Starter Idea is the opening sentence:

On the night before her wedding, Brigid Sullivan did something she always wanted to do. Brigid Sullivan . . .

I haven’t settled on an end to the second sentence yet, but these are some of the endings my husband and I have played with:

. . . married the man she truly loved.

. . . ran away from home.

. . . robbed a bank.

. . . vanished.

Then we started asking how old Brigid Sullivan is, where she lives, who she’s marrying and if she’s even human. This one’s percolating more than Welcome to Widowville, and Brigid is starting to take on certain characteristics based on two possible scenarios. As soon as I commit to one, she’ll start to grow on her own. And that’s one of two points I love about the writing process.

1. When the characters start becoming real, or real to me, anyway, and

2. when everything is in place and the story starts to tell itself.

Usually this second part of the process happens about a quarter of the way into the book, and it’s palpable, and it’s a relief, because from then on, when things aren’t working, I know I’m forcing a situation on characters rather than letting the characters work through their own situations.

Here’s the Starter Idea I’m working diligently on at the moment:

Then my grandmother knocked on my bedroom door, came in, closed the thing behind her, told me not to cry, that she was there to help. And she hugged me, which was nice, as I had not seen her since she died.

I want to thank Erin McCahan so much for taking the time to craft this guest post for me! If you click on the review link above, you'll see how much I thoroughly enjoyed I Now Pronounce You Someone Else. It was an honor to be part of this blog tour. Make sure you check out the other can see the full list at The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly's post.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?

This book restored my faith in YA paranormal fiction. Don't get me wrong...I love fantasy, paranormal romance, and if you couldn't tell...I'm addicted to YA books! Lately, though, everything seems to be fitting this genre...published just to get money from the Twilight addicts, I'm sure. Raised by Wolves, though is a great, really, really outstanding addition to this genre.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books about werewolves. Vampires used to give me nightmares, but I always imagined cozying up (and not in a gross way!!) with a wolf that would later be able to talk to cool! Post-Twilight it seems as if everyone jumped on the vampire/werewolf bandwagon and lots of...let's say, not stellar, books came out.

This book totally stood out from the pack, though. *wink, wink*

Bryn is a strong heroine...which I LOVE. She stubbornly refuses to give in...ever. What she considers hers, she will defend to the death. Even when she is totally outclassed by a bunch of supernaturals! Her connection to Chase was very sudden, but very believable, as they had been hurt in the same ways. Though Bryn isn't technically pack, she was raised to think like a wolf. This gives her insight into the ways that they think and react...and lets them react to her almost as if she could change in an instant.

Her relationship with Callum was so intriguing. I kept being drawn in by his almost fatherly attitude towards her...even when he's keeping enormous secrets from her. His concern for her welfare was always utmost, even when she couldn't see it, and I'm dying to see how things evolve there in Trial by Fire.

This plot twists, excellent characters, and just general shapeshifting fun in this book just really, truly reminded me why I LOVE werewolves and will defend them as a paranormal character over vampires any day!!!

Full disclosure: Purchased and read on my Nook!

Teaser Tuesday - Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!"

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots
by Abby McDonald

p. 158

Let go? Walk Backward? Just?
I stay frozen in place, fear washing over my body in a cold shiver. I should never have tried this; I should be safely on the ground. Bad things happen to people who think they can cheat gravity; things involving falling, and pain, and bloody, bone-shattering death.

Anxiously Awaiting...

by Cynthia Leitich Smith

The publication date has been moved up. The novel will be available beginning Jan. 25, 2011 from Candlewick Press.

Flap Copy

With a wink and a nod to Bram Stoker, bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith unites the casts of Tantalize and Eternal in a delicious dark fantasy her fans will devour.

Quincie Morris, teen restaurateur and neophyte vampire, is in the fight of her life — or undeath.

Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love — the hybrid-werewolf Kieren — of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who “blessed” her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running.

She hires a more homespun chef and adds the preternaturally beautiful Zachary to her wait staff. But with hundreds of new vampires on the rise and Bradley off assuming the powers of Dracula Prime, Zachary soon reveals his true nature — and his flaming sword — and they hit the road to staunch the bloodshed before it’s too late.

Even if they save the world, will there be time left to salvage Quincie’s soul?

PS - LOVE the cover art...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In My Mailbox - September 19, 2010

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!

For My Birthday:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare *Thanks Dad!*
Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
For Review: *Thank you Hachette!*

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney
Jane by April Linder
From the Library:

Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
The Summer of Moonlight Secrets by Danette Haworth
Zombiekins by Kevin Bolger
Change of a Dress by Maya Gold

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else - Blog Tour Stop for Sept. 19th!

Welcome to day three of the "I Now Pronounce You Someone Else" Blog Tour!!
I'm stoked to offer you a review of this great book today and then later this week I'm going to have a guest post from the author, Erin McCahan, herself!

First, let me tell you about the book:

Eighteen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She's really Phoebe, the long lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That's the only way to explain her image-obsessed mother; a kind but distant stepfather; and a brother who has a small personality complex (he thinks he's Jesus). Bronwen must have been switched at birth, and she can't wait to get away from her family for good.

Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He's sweet, funny, everything she wants - and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted, too. She falls head over heels in love, and when he proposes marriage, she joyfully accepts. But is Jared truly what she needs? And if he's not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lilywhite do? (description taken from jacket copy)

This was a book that I connected with on several levels...Bronwen comes from a family that cannot openly communicate. Tragedy tore them apart and mother, sister, brother...never really drew back together for solace. I also come from a family where oftentimes appearance and politeness mask unaddressed issues. It is a very English thing to "put on the happy face" and not really talk about the things that are lying beneath the surface. When Bronwen's mother tells her that she looks beautiful as a blonde, and though Bronwen doesn't like dying her hair, but refuses to tell her mother that she'd like to be brunette like her father was...that totally struck a cord with me.

Even as Bronwen doesn't feel like she fits in with her family, she does not let that affect her ideals, her morals, or let anyone sway her from her beliefs...even if she's not sure how she came about them. She stands firm on her belief in not having premarital sex (which I thought was handled very well in this book - not at all preachy!) and when she decides a relationship isn't working, she stands firm though it may hurt to break up with someone. The times that Bronwen may not stand up for herself may seem incongruous with her character, based on my family history, I can totally understand. Even though Bronwen doesn't eat meat, she does with Jared's family, because she's been raised that it's the polite thing to do...she doesn't talk about family issues, because that's what she's been raised to do...those were all things that I was raised to do, and it takes time to break those habits.

As much as I related to Bronwen, what really struck me about this book was that it has a very refreshing, healthy outlook about relationships. Not just romantic ones, either, but families and friendships, as well. Bronwen, her Mother, and Stepfather have some major issues to address, but once they open up communication with each other, they become much closer and really get to know and understand each other. When Bronwen seeks a family that she thinks is much more "her," and she embraces the Sondervans, she witnesses a family that talks. Unfortunately, as she becomes more involved with them, she does a very typical thing and drops her bestfriend for her boyfriend.

It's not until Kirsten confronts her about it that Bronwen even realizes that she has neglected her friend. McCahan also addresses this very realistically, both in the problem in the first place, and in that there is no easy solution. When the girls begin college, their relationship is never quite the same. In fact, one minor complaint that I had about the book was that the end scene is Bronwen and Kirsten sitting in a cafe having coffee, which has always been their thing, reconnecting, only to have them interrupted with a romantic moment. It would have been better if the happy ending had happened outside the coffee shop afterwards.

I'm trying to be spoiler-free, so I'll only say that the romantic relationship in the book is more like real life than most. Where a lot of books are all about the happy ending and scorching heat and readers not caring how they stay in that moment afterwards, I Now Pronounce You Someone Else reaches the happily ever after moment and then plunges Bronwen into the morass of "what happens next?" that comes beyond. Things do not always work out. Real life can be a mess...but, if it's really meant to be, then it will happen. That is a message that I can really get behind.

I thought this was a really great read. I am very excited now to learn more about Erin McCahan's storycrafting process and I hope you will be, too, so keep your eye out for my followup guest post later this week!

If you are interested in checking out other stops on the INPYSE blog tour, stop by The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly to get the complete tour stop schedule!

Full disclosure: ARC provided by publisher for blog tour

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dark Life

Dark Life
by Kat Falls

The oceans rose up, swallowing up the lowlands. Earthquakes shattered the continents, toppling entire regions into the rising water. Now, humans live packed into stack cities. The only ones with any space of their own are those who live on the ocean floor: the Dark Life.

Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea, helping his family farm the ocean floor. But when outlaws attack his homestead, Ty finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, a girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her brother, Ty ventures into the frontier’s rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life . . . secrets that threaten to destroy everything.

Life undersea. Though this idea terrifies me in some ways, all I can think when I read the author's descriptions of the WOW! The jellyfish floating by like "fireworks" bursting to life in the dark sea...that is an image that will stick with me. Similarly, the idea of having to suck in liquid oxygen to breathe is both exciting and panic inducing...

Ty is a cool character. He feels such a sense of responsibility for everyone around him, to the point that he'll take crazy risks to protect others. Living underwater gives him a freedom to explore and grow in a world of new possibilities, but also provides ample opportunity for breaking the rules.

When a "Topsider" girl shows up looking for her brother, Ty takes her under his wing. As the two get to know each other, they discover secrets that could threaten their very lives under the oceans. This made for an exciting adventure, full of dangerous chases, confrontations, surprising revelations and pioneers that finally take a stand.

A fun and interesting new dystopia. I would love to see a follow up!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cover Love...The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig

Coming January 2011, The Orchid Affair is book eight in the highly addictive, fantastically written Pink Carnation series. LOVE this cover, though all the books in this series look great!

Heads Up! Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

So, I'm a couple days late on this, but Chloe Neill got the go-ahead this week to reveal the cover for book four in the Chicagoland Vampires series. It is gorgeous!! I'm obsessed with these books and cannot wait until Hard Bitten comes out in May 2011. Merit totally rocks!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Get to Know...Valerie Thomas

Photo by Julienne Schaer
(click on photo to go to the Karma Bites website)

Recently I reviewed Karma Bites, an adorable, fun, and soul-searching middle grade novel. Valerie Thomas, one of the authors, very graciously granted me an interview for my blog!!

1. I love the title Karma Bites because it not only speaks to all of the great little recipes that are mentioned then shown in the book, but also because it references how karma can come back around if someone is constantly awful. How did you come up with that specific title?

As is often the case, we had a hard time coming up with a title at first. We had a few that were quite long, too long, and some that were just bad. The phrase “Karma Bites” was in the book before we realized it would make a great, punchy title. And we love it because it really is what the book is about. The idea that your actions matter, and that they will come back to you, good or bad.

2. If you could ask for one recipe from the Karma box…what would you want it to do?

In all honesty I think I wouldn’t want one, because, as Franny finds out, once you begin to tinker with things like that, it’s a bit of a domino effect. But…if I had to choose one, I would say a recipe that keeps my whirling mind at peace a little more. Especially as a writer, I find that my constant stream of thoughts, good and bad, gets in the way of my work, and my life, so I’d love a recipe that could counter that.
*Ohhh! That's a good one...

3. How was the process of working with another author to create a novel? Different from working with other authors for TV/movies?

Stacy and I have a great working relationship which we’ve honed over the years. We used to write screenplays together, and though the formats are different, it’s the same basic process when you’re writing with a partner. We are very honest with one another, and we respect each other, so we are able to plough forward without getting our feelings hurt too much. We talk about plot and story a lot, and then one of us dives into a chapter, eventually passing it back to the other. This goes on and on and on, with constant rewrites and polishes, until there’s a draft.

4. Will you and Stacy Kramer be writing another book starring the same characters?

At the moment we are writing a YA novel which we just sold (partial manuscript) to Simon and Schuster!! *squee!!* So, we are very excited about that. It has nothing to do with Karma Bites, but we would be delighted to write a sequel to Karma Bites if that’s in the cards.

5. What was the last book that you read that you would recommend to other readers?

I read a lot, but the last YA book I read that really blew me away was BEFORE I FALL. I thought it was incredibly well crafted, and even though it’s kind of glossy on the surface, it’s very moving and meaningful.
*One of my top picks for this year, too. Excellent can see my review here.

6. Quick Picks: Favorite Vacation Destination? Favorite Childhood Book? Favorite Movie? Favorite Food? Favorite Clothing Item?

Hawaii. Island of the Blue Dolphins. Silence of the Lambs (partly because it was the first movie I worked on). My Mom’s Chinese noodles. Perfect tank top.

Thank you so much, Valerie, for answering my questions!
If you haven't already picked up Karma Bites, check it out!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Birthday = Your Presents!!

Hey Everybody! Guess is my 29th birthday! So, to celebrate...and to help clean off my bookshelves a little...I'm going to giveaway some books!

My Birthday = Your Presents

So, here's what's up for grabs:

Princess Academy (paperback) by Shannon Hale
City of Bones (paperback) by Cassandra Clare
City of Ashes (paperback) by Cassandra Clare
Liar ... by Justine Larbaleister - TAKEN
The Unidentified ... by Rae Mariz - TAKEN
Snow Flower ... by Lisa See - TAKEN
Stiltsville (ARC) by Susanna Daniel
Jane Eyre (hardcover) by Charlotte Bronte
Karma Bites (ARC) by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
The Naming (paperback) by Alison Croggin
Impossible (paperback) by Nancy Werlin
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (ARC) by Lish McBride
The Maze Runner... by James Dashner - TAKEN

So, does anything on the list scream, "Ooh, ooh! I want. I want!"? If so, comment!! Let me know what you want and where I can email you... These books are going to be first come, first serve. You comment that you want The Maze Runner, I email you, get your address, I send you the book!

Simply spreading the book love today!
I'll keep everyone posted as books become taken.

Have a great day!

Ok, since it's been almost three weeks and no one else seems interested, I'm sort of closing off this giveaway...however, if you still desperately want one of these books...let me know!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Keys to the Repository

Keys to the Repository
by Melissa De La Cruz
Blue Bloods companion novel

Lavish parties. Passionate meetings in the night. Bone-chilling murders. Midterms. The day-to-day life of Schuyler Van Alen and her Blue Bloods friends (and enemies) is never boring. But there's oh-so-much more to know about these beautiful and powerful teens. Below the streets of Manhattan, within the walls of the Repository, exists a wealth of revealing information about the vampire elite that dates back before the Mayflower. In a series of short stories, journal entries, and never-before-seen letters, New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz gives her hungry fans the keys to the Repository and an even more in-depth look into the secret world of the Blue Bloods.
(description taken from

I happen to really enjoy series companion books, but I know that there are people out there who think that they are a waste of time. This one is not! If you read the Blue Bloods series, not only does this give you slightly more indepth info on all of the characters, there are also new short stories, scenes written from different character viewpoints, and also previews for both Misguided Angel (book five) and a spin-off series called Wolf Pact.

This was a quick read, but very good, and left me holding my breath to read both Misguided Angel and Wolf Pact, book one ASAP!

Cat O'Nine Tails

Cat O'Nine Tails
by Julia Golding
The Cat Royal Adventures, book four

Cat is finally living a life of luxury--and so bored she's going out of her mind. But then she and her friends are kidnapped and forced to work on a ship bound for the New World. With a mystery to solve and survival at stake, Cat must use her wits to save herself and her friends.
(description taken from

Another great addition to the Cat Royal series! Book four sees Cat inadvertantly set upon by a pressgang during a search for Syd, who'd been missing. Well...luck would have it...when Cat wakes up she finds Syd. Unfortunately, she, Pedro, and Frank have all been forced upon the same ship and all four friends are now unwilling members of the Royal Navy.

After some adversity, Cat makes a daring escape attempt and luckily is taken in by a friendly Native American family. Maybe too friendly...they try to keep Cat! In a new country, separated from every one of her friends, can Cat keep true to herself and push through to find happiness again?

Full of adventure, mystery, new cultural experiences, and some intriguing budding romantic moments, this newest Cat Royal adventure had me totally captivated. Now I need to find out when the next one will be coming out!

In My Mailbox - September 12, 2010

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!

For Review:

Cruisers by Walter Dean Myers

Revelations by Melissa De La Cruz
*actually a reread for me

A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane
Water Steps By A. LaFaye

Monster High by Lisi Harrison

Saturday, September 11, 2010


by Sophie Jordan

A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
(description taken from

OMG! This book is SMOKIN' hot! I want book two...NOW!

Whew. I love Sophie Jordan's steamy adult romances, too. It's funny...when I first got this book, I was stoked. The cover is GORGEOUS. The main character is a red-head...and descended from dragons. Awesome, right? Then, I saw that this was Sophie Jordan's YA debut and I was absolutely blown away with excitement!


Well. Actually reading it...finally...totally lived up to the hype, I am very pleased to say! These draki are really cool characters. Not quite human, not quite dragon, but all around bad-ass. Jacinda is no exception. I love that not only is she the first fire-breather in hundreds of years, but she is also a faster flyer than any other Draki in her pride. Love, love, love a girl who can outdo the boys!

Ahhh...the pride. My only complaint about this book...and it's not so much a complaint as a need to read more...IMMEDIATELY... :) that you don't get to see too much about the actual pride's homeland in this book. I am stoked to read book two and hopefully get to see a lot more of Draki in their actual habitats.

Meanwhile, as Jacinda is thrown to the wolves, oh wait, in this case, humans...she meets Will.
*POTENTIAL SPOILERS* A reluctant hunter, Will is drawn to Jacinda, just as she cannot seem to stay away from him. He brings out the Draki in her. Without Will, her Draki may just die...killing the part of her that feels most alive.

Whew. Talk about sizzling romance in YA? This book is it. Every scene where these two are just kissing...and I mean, just kissing...practically scorches the pages. Fantastically hot romance. *le sigh. This is how to do tortured, Romeo and Juliet-esque love.

Want a book to heat up your fall as the temperature drops? Pick this one up!

Full disclosure: ARC received at BEA 2010